I was playing with 8 month old Baby Tony like a good poppy should. Perched on my shoulders was the lad as I bounced up and down, chatting with my dear wife.
Suddenly a war cry pierced the calm evening air.
"I GO TO GET YOU!"
I pivoted my waist just in time to see 2 1/2 year old Charlie turn the corner with a smile on his face and fire in his eyes.
I could not recall receiving an invitation to a wrestling match, but I had no time to raise the issue. Charlie, 30 some pounds of pure muscle mass, ran full force into my leg. I reached down with one hand to grab him, but as I did, Little Tony teetered on my shoulders, so I had to release Charlie, who took advantage of my helplessness to deliver three swift lefts to an area where no man ought ever strike another man. I filled the house with my own cry:
Most men have at one time or another taken one in the privates, and I am no different. In 7th grade -- Mr. Matsumoto's class -- some classmates were teasing a girl named Mona about having peach fuzz on her lip. Understandably, the young lady did not appreciate this type of attention so she, with the cunning one only finds in a junior high girl, distracted her persecutors by pointing out that Tara, another girl in our class, wore fuzz about a shade darker on her chin. Now, Tara was my friend, on whom I'd long had a secret, burning crush, so I stepped in and did what any gallant 13 year old boy would do when the object of his affection is being hazed by the adolescent mob --
I tickled her chin and said, "Ooohh! Tara has some manly hair on her chin!"
Not only did this delicate flower, light of my 7th grade life, knee me where it counts, she also picked up a text book -- judging by the weight I'd say Houghton-Mifflin's American history -- and brought it down on my head which, my hands clutching elsewhere at the moment, I had left undefended. I closed my eyes, and whether my friends were staring dumbfounded at the sight or whether I had lost consciousness, I cannot say, I only know I heard nothing. I think we can all agree that I deserved what I had got.
Contrast that with the present circumstances, won't you? Here I am, fulfilling the role of loving father like a pro. When unexpected and, I should think, unwarranted, I receive the same treatment. And not, mind you, from a middle school girl nursing a shattered self-esteem. No. The debilitation was inflicted by my own flesh and blood, who Wahoo-ed and Yahah-ed while assaulting my unmentionables.
To my knees I went, mercifully cushioned by the carpet. I tried to steady myself, but I still had a baby mounted on the back of neck. I pled for mercy.
Again, too late. He was coming round for another go.
"Take the baby!" I grunted in what my disoriented mind calculated was my wife's general direction.
Charlie pounced on my back.
"YAAAHAAAA!! I get you! I get you! HYAH!"
Jenny relieved me of the writhing burden I still held on my shoulders, but by the time we completed the transaction and I regained use of my hands, I could not employ them to defend against Charlie as he had succeeded in pushing me forward, creating an urgent need for me to defend my face against the carpet. I let out another groan upon impact, and while I lay, gasping for breath in a fog of shock and awe, Charlie stood up -- to do what I know not, but it felt like a jig. And there I rested: helpless, humiliated, howling.